Twilight Sparkle opened the door to her library, setting her saddlebags on a nearby table. She hummed a tune to herself while she unpacked all her books, including titles such as Ancient Dragon Blood Rituals and Teacups: A Solution to Magical Quandaries. She levitated the books back into their crystalline shelves, keeping in tune with her meticulous organization strategy. Despite the complexity of her methods, she was able to place everything correctly with hardly any thought at all. Her bags soon ran out of books to replace, and the feeling of a job well done filled her from hoof to wingtip.
She dug out the other objects in her bags and set them on the table - some cupcakes from Pinkie in a nice cardboard box, a half dozen bits, a shiny blue stone she found on the street earlier that day, a tin foil hat, a sapphire smoothie for Spike, and a statue of the Smooze.
Twilight raised her eyebrows at the statue of the Smooze. "Really?" She called out - but there was no response from any tricksters. She shrugged, moving to leave the library, but something gave her pause. She glanced at her pile of objects, something not sitting right with her. A feeling of there being an object there she couldn't quite put her hoof on... Getting an idea, she spread her wings, flying up to one of her shelves to begin a quick session of research.
Spike walked in. "Hey Twilight, Starlight says she needs your help with an alligator tank."
"Mmm-huh," Twilight said, flipping through the pages of a red book. "I'm a little busy right now Spike, but I should be there in about fifteen minutes. Oh, there's a sapphire smoothie for you on the table over there."
Spike rubbed his claws together and grabbed the smoothie off the table. He engulfed it with his flames, licking his lips afterward. "Thanks!"
"Don't mention it," Twilight said, at long last pulling out the book she had been looking for. Identifying Minerals. With a grin on her face, she flipped through the pages, eager to discover what was eating at her. The grin quickly vanished, replaced with a look of utter bafflement. All the pages within were identical, each one adorned with an advertisement for Las Pegasus brand horseshoes.
"What?" Twilight said.
Twilight Sparkle moved to open the door to her library, only to have it fly off the hinges from the slightest tap. She took a moment to look at the loose door on the ground in confusion. The hinges must have been worn, or something. She levitated it back into place, only to find that there were no hinges to fix it back to whatsoever. She let out a sigh, deciding to deal with it later, setting the door alongside a nearby wall. She set her saddlebags on a nearby table and unpacked all her books, including titles such as Francis de Draco Lang and T T T T T T T T. Having no need to think, she returned the books the crystalline shelves, working almost as an automaton. It wasn't until she got to the last book - a blank red one with no title - that she paused. She knew this was supposed to go on the shelf right in front of her - but that shelf was full. Not to mention it was filled with books all about the art of exploding windows, and the red book was most certainly not about that.
...Since when did she have a shelf devoted entirely to exploding windows? She hadn't even been aware such books existed!
She set the book down on the table, trying to comprehend what was going on. Her saddlebags no longer existed, but their contents did, suspended in the air as if still inside the bag. She slowly approached the objects, studying them. There were the cupcakes, the shiny blue stone, a UFO made of tin foil, a dancing banana, a strange fountain pouring out a sea of numbers, and a half dozen golden statues of the Smooze.
"Discord!" she yelled. "What are you doing!?"
The only response she got was Spike coming to the door - which was now fully repaired, hinges and all. He regurgitated a sapphire smoothie and placed it in her saddlebags, which were for some reason on her head now. "Thanks!" he said.
"I... I didn't give you that... Did I?"
"I dunno, Starlight's in the next room trying to eat Trixie's liver, by the way, she wants your help, says your spleen will complete the star conduit or some nonsense."
"What!? Is she crazy?"
"Yeah," Trixie said, falling from the ceiling, looking as healthy as ever, save for the addition of wings and a lack of a horn. "Do you have any idea how painful livers are?"
Trixie grinned like she was a cat who had just caught Twilight the mouse. "You do, you know why? Because you've lived with it all your life. It's just liberating once you don't have it. You should try it."
"I think I'll pass for now," Twilight said, recoiling from Trixie's chipper attitude.
"Okay! No problem! By the way, Starlight, what's that book about?"
"I don't know..." Starlight said, turning to the red book. She tried to flap her wings - why did she try to do that? She didn't know. She used her magic to open the book, falling on a particular page scrawled with dozens of pictures of livers, a blue stone, and Twilight Sparkle. Twilight Sparkle was sitting in front of a clock, staring at something she couldn't comprehend. She spoke, something about Identifying Minerals.
Starlight teleported to Las Pegasus. She flapped her wings, rising into the sky, looking down. The cloud city existed above a perfectly smooth ocean that went on forever. The sky was clear, the sun bright, and the Stars watching with their eyes. Starlight flew into the casino, taking a deck of cards and shuffling it until it turned into a book. She opened it, revealing a picture of the Smooze engulfing Twilight.
Twilight looked at herself inside the Smooze from her vantage point under the sea. Through her shivering, she managed one word. "What?"
Twilight Sparkle opened the door again, only to find that she wasn't even inside her castle. She was standing on top of a mountain, her saddlebags floating in front of her. They spoke in a language she didn't understand, proceeding to explode and send the contents flying everywhere. The red book hit Twilight square in the face, knocking her off the mountain. She screamed, spreading her wings to catch her fall - somehow only making herself fall faster. She splashed into the ground, the ripples of her impact upsetting ponies living everywhere for miles with tidal waves of grassy land.
The red book fell on her head. She caught it with her magic before it could be lost forever in the sea of grass. She glared at it - she didn't remember taking this book with her today, but it looked... familiar somehow. Double edged. Like she was looking at it in two places at once.
It opened for her, revealing its inner pages, all displaying images of Twilight. Even the images that were of Starlight, or another book, or that blue stone, or a daisy - somehow Twilight knew they were all her.
Spike appeared in front of her with Discord's face instead of his own. The sky became dark and sinister, raining giant sapphires down upon Twilight without so much as a second of buildup. She raised a shield to protect herself, the diamonds bouncing off and impaling Spike. He didn't bleed, but he soon exploded into a pile of tinfoil spaceships which promptly took off to war with the falling rubies.
Twilight began to panic. She teleported to her castle - only where she appeared wasn't her castle. It was Sweet Apple Acres. Every last apple tree was ripe with fruit - books, that is. Bright red books hung down, making Twilight's mouth water with their delicious aroma. A Twittermite flew into her ear - and out the other. She screamed, falling onto her back - the grass screaming for her not to leave them. She stumbled around, unable to tell which direction was north. The trees seemed to laugh at her, shaking their pages in the wind.
"Hey there, sugarcube!" Applejack said, bucking a tree. The books fell down into the basket, arranged as if they were about to be put on a shelf. "You look distressed."
"Applejack! Something's very, very wrong! I... I keep feeling like I know things, but don't, the world's all messed up, and there are red books everywhere!"
"What's wrong with that?" Applejack said, taking one of the books out of her bucket. "They're my best crop ever! Just so succulent and fresh, perfect for your every need!"
"Applejack I'm being-"
Applejack took a bite of the book. The pages crunched between her teeth like an apple. Cidery juices flowed from the bite mark, pouring onto the ground like some sad river. Twilight swore she heard Trixie scream.
"Sugarcube? ...You really are freaked out by this!"
Twilight nodded very slowly, whimpering like a dog.
"Why? We've known each other for, what, sixty mil? Ah mean..."
"Ah're you crazy?" Applejack shouted. "Ah'd never grow a book in my life! Such trash!"
Applejack's face was upsidedown and enraged. "Ah'll never back away from what I did!"
"Ya need to find the pride of all sugarcube!"
"Yer the one who's freaked out by a fruit!"
"It's an expression!"
Twilight shot up between the two Applejacks. "Cut! It! Out! I can't have us arguing like this!"
"Why not?" The red book asked, bleeding out on the ground. "It may be the only way to come to the true blue."
"Because... Why am I talking with a book?"
The sky rumbled, and all the colors in the universe except red disappeared. "Because you are intertwined with the Strands."
"Strands of what?"
The word 'what' began to appear all around them, crafted with red letters in infinite sequence. WHATWHATWHATWHATTAHTWHATWHATWHATWHATWHATTHATWHATWHATWHAT
"Make it stop!" Twilight shouted. "I want to be done!"
"What?" the book asked. "Weren't you looking for me?"
The red book was gone, Identifying Minerals was in its place.
"I've seen that before..." Twilight said.
Twilight Sparkle wondered why she felt like she had been here before.
She needed to find a book...
Why though? She didn't know how to read.
She was standing on top of a doorframe, looking down at her library. She saw the essence words of the shelves as Starlight rummaged through them all, eating all the leftover bacon bits she found. A mirror sparked somewhere, whispering of sins long forgotten. The world lit on fire, and Twilight knew something was wrong - but she didn't care.
Tartarus could burn for all she cared, she needed to find a book. She checked her saddlebags, methodically digging through the Smooze goo, which was purple for some reason. She tossed the saddlebags into the ground for Starlight to devour, upset that they didn't have any books in them.
The blue stone appeared on her muzzle, making her cross her eyes. It came into focus - showing her the structure behind the madness. She saw the ever increasing levels of destructive energies, engaging in more and more artistic discontinuities. Words passed by her vision - words that explained everything, revealed the nature of existence to her and held her mind close in their arms. She felt revelation at her doorstep, smiling as the world no longer seemed so confusing.
A boot hit her in the head, jogging her memory.
She didn't know how to read.
She fell into despair, flailing about, knocking the stone off her nose and sending it onto the ground. Starlight ate it, transforming into a sapphire smoothie. Starlight continued what she was doing before without any hindrance by her new form. She created a book fort and invited Twilight in.
Twilight hesitated only a moment before entering, tears streaming down her emotionless face. It led to a gigantic palace composed entirely of books, though conspicuously the color red was missing.
Twilight felt like that was important. She didn't know why.
Fluttershy was sitting on a throne, seventy times larger than Twilight remembered. "Oh! Twilight! How are you!"
Twilight belched out green fire in response.
"Oh, that's good, I was worried you'd forgotten you ate Spike. Congratulations, by the way, that can't have been easy for you."
Twilight nodded, feeling guilty for some reason. "It... was a challenge, I admit."
"Are you here for the badmitten game?"
Twilight blinked. "Will we use live kittens?" Why would they use live kittens?
"Oh goodness me no, full grown cats only, the kittens have been transported to your mane."
Twilight felt her mane with her hand, taking out a handful of small, round kittens. From her palm they mewed at her, licking her fingers. She stretched her arms and legs, placing the cats back in her hair and walking down the hall of books. A mirror shone at her from the end, the words 'IDENTIFYING MINERALS' written on the surface in a red medium.
Twilight found this curious, trying to understand what it meant. Then she remembered. She couldn't read. She probably couldn't even tell those were words. What was she thinking? She couldn't just go thinking anything, that could be dangerous.
The mirror shattered in front of her, belching out red flames that charred the books. "GET OUT!" they roared at her, consuming absolutely everything between them and Twilight. Twilight threw some bacon bits at the flames before turning tail and running away. She passed Fluttershy. The yellow pegasus was shrinking and on fire.
"What's wrong Twilight? Don't you like our fiery friends?"
"This isn't right Fluttershy!"
"This happens every eighteen egldays," Fluttershy said, rolling her eyes. She was now smaller than Twilight's horn. "I thought you were used to it?"
Fluttershy shrunk into nothing, and the book palace began to come apart around Twilight. She teleported away, only to be in front of the mirror again. The words were still there.
She remembered she couldn't read-
Wait. Yes, she could. Why didn't she think she could before? It said... It said 'numbers rising'?
A boot hit her in the head. She remembered she couldn't think whatever she wanted. That was dangerous. Who knew what could happen?
The mirror exploded, freezing the world around her. "GET OUT!" She heard - get out of what? She wasn't in the book fort anymore. She was in no danger.
The volcano prepared to explode, unleashing the torrential laws of physics into the past. The ice froze it over, dooming the world to a never-ending panic as ponies waited for doom to come that never did.
Sunset yelled at Twilight. "THE COUNTER IS GOING UP INCREMENTALLY!" Sunset extended her hand to Twilight. Twilight extended her hoof out, unsure. Sunset grabbed hold, a look of strained impatience upon her face.
"What fun is there in making sense?" Discord said.
Sunset pulled Twilight away from Discord moments before he exploded in a shower of red books. Something clicked in Twilight's mind. "It's happening again."
"Move!" Sunset yelled, dragging Twilight through a hallway that definitely hadn't existed before, and whose gravity constantly swirled around them.
"Do you know what's going on?" Twilight asked.
"As much as you do! Which is to say yes!"
"But I don't know!"
"Think about the books, Twilight, think! Go beyond the boundary of the singular!"
Twilight remembered. Identifying Minerals. There was something wrong in the library... "We need to go back to the library!"
Sunset turned to look at Twilight. Twilight screamed - Sunset's eyes didn't exist, they were holes in spacetime that led to the library. Sunset grabbed Twilight, shoving her into the portal. Twilight was helpless as she was thrown into the library, slamming face first into the 'exploding windows' shelf.
The door flew off the hinge. Twilight turned to see herself standing in the doorway, staring at the dislodged door in confusion.
"Something's wrong!" Twilight yelled at herself.
The Twilight in the door blinked. "...W-What?"
Twilight rushed up to a shelf, taking out the Identifying Minerals book. "We need this!" She flipped through it, finding images of the blue stone in the center of a complex web that grew more and more disorganized the further out they went.
"What is that?" The other Twilight asked.
"I think it's in your bag."
The other Twilight dumped out her bag, the blue stone falling out first, only to be eaten by the red book. The Twilights gasped, prying the red book open with their magic. The book opened with an explosion, fire burning both thier faces. There was laughter. "What fun is there in making sense?"
"What fun is there in not?" Starlight yelled, flinging her sapphire smoothie body onto the book. The book froze solid, screaming with the tones of every bell in existence. It was gone.
The stone appeared between the two Twilight's, resting on the image of it in the Identifying Minerals book.
"...Now what?" Twilight wondered. Then she panicked. "Oh no, it's going to happen again! Listen to me, we have to remember!" She shook the other Twilight.
"Remember what!?" The other Twilight yelled, crying from the stress.
Twilight Sparkle looked for a book. She couldn't find it. The shelves swirled around her, laughing. She opened her mouth and reached inside herself, feeling for her saddlebags. She took out Rarity, who shot her a particular glance. Twilight tossed Rarity away - the unicorn wasn't important - and dove back into her own esophagus to find the book she needed. She pulled out a blue stone.
The blue stone was important. Twilight knew this for sure. She reached for it - but Rarity shot her another glance. Twilight's hoof lit on fire. She screamed, falling backward. Rainbow Dash flew high in the sky, approaching the epitome of hyperbole. Twilight found that her hoof was gone, replaced with a lobster claw. She would have given more time to panicking had she felt this was important. She frantically dug through her gourd, looking for that book. Where was it?
The red book appeared, laughing. Rarity shook her head. The book ate her. Rainbow Dash performed a rainboom in the sky, shattering reality into thousands of pieces and replacing it with void space. Twilight continued searching - reft, light, dp, uown. Nothing helped - she was only given the answers to the universe, not the song of harmony.
Wait, that wasn't what she wanted anyway. She needed that book. She needed that book sooner rather than later, her mind couldn't handle this for much longer. She took out Rarity, who shot her a pleading look. Twilight furrowed her brow. Rainbow Dash dove into the canyon, shattering everything into nothingness. Twilight was on the moon, a thousand ant-like Raritys trying to devour her. She couldn't find it. She wasn't important.
Twilight teleported away, finding herself on Las Pegasus, surrounded by Stars. The Stars laughed, showing her images of her own brutal death. The Stars Laughed, showing her images of her own brutal birth. The Stars laughed. The Tree of Harmony erupted from nowhere, screaming the sound of interstellar death. Twilight's ears swapped locations with a simple flash of grassy intentions. Rarity was on Rainbow Dash, pleading with Twilight to do something. They were cut in two, both halves moving as if they were still alive.
Twilight was dead, reading a book about a sapphire smoothie that ate bacon. The bits exploded, preventing Rainbow Dash from making further progress in her mission. Twilight was alive, sitting in a coffin. She wanted to scream but couldn't. Angels sang a chorus about toffee flavored feathers and the coffin turned to ash, the earth crushing Twilight headfirst.
She needed that book. Twilight furrowed her brow. Rainbow Dash dove into the canyon, shattering nothing into everythingness. Twilight was in the sun with a thousand ant-like Rarity's holding a seance. They could find it. It was important. Twilight chanted with them for a time, feeling the strings of reality tie them to all possibilities. The Tree of Harmony erupted from somewhere, screaming the sound of interstellar death. The sun went out, the world became dark, but the Tree remained, glowing intensely. The blue stone appeared, glinting in the light. Rainbow Dash crashed face first into the ground, shattering her muzzle. The epitome of hyperbole was just out of reach.
Rarity pleaded with Twilight.
Twilight Sparkle looked for a book. She couldn't find it. The Stars swirled around her, laughing. Celestia laughed. Discord laughed. Rarity shook her head. The epitome of hyperbole stared her in the face, grinding infinities before her eyes. Rainbow Dash plunged herself into the core of Equis and Earth simultaneously. The earthy crust of Twilight's eyes fell, and she saw a sapphire smoothie that ate bacon.
"I... I need help. Can you-?"
"No, sorry, it's 3.14 mirror day."
"Oh. Okay. Forget I asked."
"Done." The smoothie imploded. Rainbow Dash flew by and an avocado on the other side of the mirror turned into a grapefruit. Rarity aggressively ate the grapefruit, staring out at the world, beaming her eternal judgment out telepathically. Twilight felt guilty. Rainbow Dash flew by, uncaring.
"Didn't I just...?"
"Oh, Okay. Forget I asked."
"Wait that's what I said!"
"3.14 mirror day!" Rarity threw a cream pie at Twilight, the sugary substance flying all across her face. Twilight felt guilty. The cream turned into a liquefied Rarity that spoke in reverse. A tall black monolith appeared before everything and screamed "SOON." It promptly vanished. The canyon found this disappointing. The earthy crust of Twilight's eyes fell, and she saw the eternity of the cosmos laid out before her.
The red book appeared, this time with a gazelle imprinted on it. Rainbow Dash flew by the gazelle, intent on her mission. The red book opened Twilight. It couldn't find what it was looking for. The blue stone was important. It was in the center of the web.
Twilight Sparkle looked for a book. The red book found her, looking for a stone. Rarity looked on as the two dueled, her head shaking slowly. Twilight was a baby, looking for any way to escape, but the larger version of herself laughed and squashed her underfoot. The Stars laughed, "Yes, Twilight?"
"Why are you doing this!?" She screamed.
"It isn't us!" The Stars replied, jovial.
A monolith appeared once more. "SOON."
Rarity looked at Twilight with disapproval. Rainbow Dash flew by. Rarity pleaded with Twilight.
Twilight turned tail and followed Rainbow Dash. She was the answer - she had to be. Rarity nodded in approval. The red book set up a solitaire game that was joined by a strange white pony with red hair. They red pony cut off the red book's head. Twilight flew after Rainbow Dash, unhindered by reality shattering into coupons around them. The epitome of hyperbole was their goal - how could she not have seen it before? It was so obvious.
A boot came flying from her left, but she wouldn't let it attack her. She devoured it with her wings, sliding the boot into a nearby glove. The glove did the macarena and launched itself at Rainbow Dash - spinning the pegasus out of control.
"Rainbow!" Twilight screamed.
Twilight Sparkle looked for a book. Rainbow Dash fell into the darkness, followed closely by Twilight. Twilight couldn't discover the shelves, what were their words? Twilight grabbed Rainbow Dash with her wings. The shelves spoke to her, speaking of the webbing. Twilight dragged Rainbow Dash to the Epitome of Hyperbole, and it let out a deep, throaty sound. The library spoke in the language of the Smooze. The epitome of hyperbole became a book - Identifying Minerals.
Twilight opened it up. It looked like a normal identification book on the inside. The first page she saw was azurite. It was azurite. That was what the stone was.
"Now what are you going to do?" Rarity asked, producing the blue stone and giving it to Twilight. Twilight set the identification book aside, holding the stone in her magic.
"I don't know."
"It's the center of the web."
"But how can we stop it?"
"We? Dear, this is all you. I don't know anything. I'm just a Rarity." She shattered into a thousand smaller Raritys, each scurrying to a far corner of the room they were in. The floor fell out - but Twilight didn't need floors. She lifted the blue stone up and smashed it with a hammer.
Twilight Sparkle was looking for a book. She screamed in rage, dragging the azurite stone out of her saddlebags and incinerating it in rage.
The blue stone was important. Twilight knew this for sure. She reached for it. The azurite stone flew away from her grasp, falling into a volcano. The volcano rejuvenated the trill of the universe, keeping all within time.
Twilight Sparkle was looking for a book. "SOON," the monolith reiterated. The azurite stone was on top of the black shape. Twilight teleported it to her, crushing it with her power. The blue stone was important. It glinted in the sun, devouring the light of the universe. The Stars laughed. "What are you going to do? You can't win!"
Twilight growled. "What."
"Gaming the system are we?" A mysterious voice called from all around. "I'm afraid it doesn't work like that."
"How does it work then?"
Twilight Sparkle looked for a book.
Twilight growled. "I'm done with you!"
"You misplace the blame." The blue stone appeared in front of Twilight, in the center of a large web. The fifth ring of the web was highlighted.
"Somepony has to be blamed!"
"Arbitrary." The web collapsed, burning the stone into nothingness. The stone shone in the pale moonlight. Rarity screamed in agony while Rainbow Dash plowed through the epitome of hyperbole. Identifying Minerals unraveled between all their eyes.
"What." The voice declared.
Twilight Sparkle found solace in the idea that maybe this was a good thing - every time she moved she learned more, though her mind was taxed further and further. A left winged cockroach flew through the wind, eating through the straw of Sunset Shimmer. Starlight made her disapproval known, only to fall apart in a shattered abstraction of reality consistent with the previous metaphors. The pen of words appeared next to the locus of sanity, pretending that it was nothing more than a simple desk clerk. The con went off without a hitch, and Twilight Sparkle was given a strange blue orb.
She twitched involuntarily - there was no way she could take this for much longer. She was aware of everything happening - and yet, at the same time, nothing. She found that she could only describe this feeling as "grunk," no other words seemed adequate. A small child ran up a flight of stairs, colliding into Twilight's essence. Twilight didn't notice as she was tossed out onto the street and into the voided asphalt, falling for eternity.
But eternity ended, which she found unsurprising, and she was a monolith. She felt anticipation. Birds rose up to the sky as a red-masked superhero ordered takeout Mexican. The restaurant erupted into flames, each spark of fire being a miniature version of Spike. The tune of cupcakes could be heard in the distance, alongside the tone of a man spelling out Albuquerque in song. Twilight was tipped over, falling into the next monolith, which she also was. A chain reaction of domino Twilights is all that happened. Corot seethed in rage. Castor believed in hope. Midnight produced magic for the masses. Twilights continue to fall over - nothing less, nothing more. The rum tum tigger is a curious beast, it loves to eat rum and drink reft beets.
Twilight stopped herself. She was an alicorn again - and the locus of all knowledge, but that was beside the point. She knew so much now. The repeated falling had awoken something in her. A plumber ran through a maze of green pipes, beating a man in a green hat over the head. Screw the elves, I always say. Donkey balls are all you need in your endeavors.
You find yourself confused at the use of the second person. Twilight is just as surprised as you, baffled that such a change in tone would have occurred, or such a change in tense. I give you a hamburger. You may or may not find this insulting, and I don't care. Twilight tries to yell out to us, but we are unable to reciprocate at the time due to legal reasons which are not to be discussed.
Twilight yelled. "Wha - Er, how was that all about?"
There was no response - the breach of protocol had been, at best, confusing, and at worst, a toothbrush.
She couldn't find the blue stone. A lawnmower was running outside, leaking in form the walls of legalese. She called out to the boy outside, but she had no mouth. He threw the lawnmower into the window, shattering the rocks' best dream. Maud disapproved. The grass was ecstatic, unable to contain their excitement and draining the world of all possible sustenance.
"So say we not."
"If at all."
"Make it so."
Twilight screamed, banging her head into the pristine value of the number seven. "You show up again please!"
You were surprised she was talking to you, and even more surprised to find yourself being written about. You had a piece of paper in your hands that read: you had a piece of paper in your hands that read: you had a piece of paper in your hands that read: you had a piece of paper in your hands that read: you had a chunk of flesh in your hand that read: you had a Twilight Sparkle in your hand that read: you had yourself in your hands.
Twilight Sparkle was reborn as you. She disapproved, screaming at the hideousness. A leftover ocelot climbed over a cubic tree while doing the can-can. Sperion drove his seventh arm into her eye, screaming the word 'sorry!' The monolith appeared again, screaming "CUIL! CUIL! CUIL! CUIL!" Somewhere, sometime, Twilight Sparkle cried while having the greatest physical sensation that was possible.
She disapproved. She disapproved of her disapproval. I approved.
She yelled at me. "What the heck are you?"
"No! You're something else!"
I shrugged, twirling my hoof in the air. "Perhaps you need to think a little outside the box. You is over there."
You hated that - when I pointed you out that is. For in that moment Twilight saw you for what you were. "Is this all a show to you? Is this nothing more than something for your sick, sick entertainment!?"
You were unable to reciprocate. I gave you a hamburger. You approved.
Twilight was alone again, sitting in a realm without rhyme or reason, without sense or nonsense, without marshmallows or potato crisps, and yet with both those things at the same time. She tried to cry, but the earth rose to her eyes, sealing the tears within. Her brain was flooded with water, drowning in despondent thoughts. My amusement levels were somewhere, as were yours. And her own.
She saw us again - every time, she saw us now. How had she not seen us before, in the other levels? She had been so blind... She was nothing but a puppet and there was nothing that could be done.
"Wrong," you said, "there's something going on. That stone? That book?"
"Meaningless," I said, "or close to it. The azurite is the locus. The book is a guide. They are at the center but beyond her control."
Twilight took the azurite out of her ear, smashing it with a hammer. For the smallest of moments, the universe ceased to exist. It reinstated itself after a prank gone wrong. The uncle is not what he seems, and the blinds cover the eyes of all horses. Narwhals blasted forth from all of Twilight's orifices, and she almost broke then and there.
"I... I..." she cried to herself.
I shrug. "Level Six is a bit much. It is the maximum level outlined in Cuil Theory you know?"
"A level of abstraction away from the reality of a situation," Twilight recited from a memory she didn't own. It felt alien coming out of her mouth. I gave her a hamburger. She ate it, discovering that Identifying Minerals was the pattie. She threw it away in disgust. "Why do you keep giving me these things?"
I was cut short by a sudden lobotomy operation, whereas you were curiously absent from all events for the next sixty million years. The sixty million years of knowledge and book apples. The toilet flushed in reverse, spraying all over the baked goods in the scenery.
Twilight's brain was in danger of drowning completely in her own mad sorrow. She needed something to cure herself... She looked around in panic. The reaper flew overhead while Hasbro laughed evilly from beneath the Island of Creativity, whereas the appul army charged through the devolution of common sense. The gods looked down unfavorably on the intrusion into their world, but the monolith kept them at bay with a taste of their own medicine: a giant basketball. She was in the eternal void of her own mind.
There was a Greggs.
What was a Greggs?
Twilight's mind was engulfed in waters. The waves came out her ears and began to drown her body, swirling in a mixture of all colors. The Tree of Harmony looked down from above, unable to do anything. Starlight screamed in agony while Sunset ate her beneath the subterranean clouds. The One hacked the code of the universe, increasing the waves further. Chevron seven, chevron seven, chevron seven, will not lock.
"HEEEEEEELP MEEEEEEEEE!" Twilight wailed. "APPLEJACK! FLUTTERSHY! RAINBOW DASH! RARITY! PINKIE PIE! ANYONE!"
And then Twilight had an idea. All the waters vanished instantly, replaced with a scene in space filled with cubes. Water leaked out of Twilight's ears as she flopped onto the sand. "Pinkie!"
Pinkie Pie shook hands with one of the cubes, wrote a letter to the goddess of intrinsic elasticity, and thought about the epitome of hyperbole enough to satisfy it, all while doing jumping jacks in a five-dimensional space without any possible milk duds. She saw Twilight and grinned. "Welcome to Pinkie Pie's questing shop, how may I take your order?"
"I need help Pinkie! I need out!"
Pinkie brought out seventeen million ping pong paddles to disapprove of the light speed limit. "I'm sorry Twilight, but-"
"Don't you say that!" Twilight shouted. "You deal with this kind of thing all the time! You operate on a different Cuil level than everyone else, I just know it! You know what to do about this!"
"She doesn't," I said. "She may know more than you, but she doesn't know what the locus is. Not that it'd really matter anyway."
"The stone!" You screamed. I shook my head in response. You fell apart into waffles, syrup engulfing your very being as you were sent to work the night shift in wartime industries, next to a certain library in Phoenix you were intimately familiar with.
Twilight saw the azurite stone in her eye. She plucked it out and gave it to Pinkie. The world became sepia, and they were both books.
"This is the locus!" the purple book said. "Please! Do something!"
"Okie dokie loki!" the pink book said. "...What though?" It turned back into a pony, licking up all the leftover confetti from the party cannon that'd go off in five minutes.
"Oh no, you just... Just remove it! Get it out of the center! Stop this madness Pinkie! You're my only hope!"
"Twilight! Calm down! I know this is a bit much for you but... I'll try, okay? I might be able to collapse this down. Just let me try, okay? I'll try, okay?" She moved with the sixth level, graceful, understanding, seeing all that Twilight couldn't, able to handle all. Twilight couldn't fathom the issue. "I'll try, okay?"
"What am I doing to stop you?"
The world was white and empty. All that existed was Twilight Sparkle.
"...This was not what I was expecting."
The monolith appeared in front of her. "It is soon."
"...What are you?"
"Yeah, big help, I knew that."
"I am all that's keeping you sane right now."
"Ah. The white plane's nothing more than an illusion then?"
"The white plane is as real as everything else you've been experiencing."
"So, what, do these Cuil levels exist, or not?"
Twilight twitched involuntarily. In the distance, she heard a faint song. "Everybody get up, it's time to jam now..." Twilight sighed. "It's going to get out of control, isn't it?"
"What are you here to tell me?"
"Pinkie is doing as you asked."
Twilight breathed out a sigh of relief. A clock appeared next to her, striking the twenty-fifth hour and screaming obscenities. She ignored it.
"You should not be happy."
Twilight gulped, the world flashing pink. "...Why?"
They could hear Spike talking in the distance - French, was it? "It will make things worse for you."
"Will it make all this stop?" Twilight demanded, flames shooting out her eyes.
"It will. And it won't. You will go back to your library and live as if none of this ever happened. But you will also stay here and lose the connection the locus provided you. You will also cease to exist because the events would never have happened."
"...How can all three of those things happen at the same time?" Twilight asked - once as a unicorn, once as a pegasus, and once as an earth pony.
"Your question is also your answer."
Twilight shivered. "...Why? Why is this happening?"
"A locus was introduced into a situation in which it could spiral off out of control, contacting the higher dimensional framework that leaks between all existences in such a way that it would incrementally access higher values of Cuil through which you, your memories, and many other elements were dragged, going deeper and deeper into that which should never be seen, past the constructs which would provide familiarity - and closer to me. The process is completely natural and out of the control of all beings, only something of which can be observed, and not eaten without a slice of common sense. The attributes of such a trip are different every time, though the first recorded in data logs that acquire time involved a human man asking for a hamburger."
"...Uh..." Twilight said, the white plane dissolving into a technicolor rainbow of infinite colors, threatening Twilight with epilepsy.
"It is not meant to be understood."
The ground beneath Twilight gave way, and she was on a rollercoaster. She could no longer see the monolith, but she could still hear its voice.
"As the reality collapses around you, you ask yourself questions. What does this all mean? Why am I here? Will I return home, die, or stay here? You think it has to be one, or the other, or the other, even now."
Twilight Sparkle was looking for a book. She found herself looking for a book. With a book looking for her looking for a book. With a staircase of infinite Twilights flying around, looking for the azurite. The azuirite threw itself into Twilight's face, the proverbial rollercoaster throwing her higher and higher, the colors threatening to dissolve her eyes with chair particles.
"In truth, you find solace in this. You know that somewhere, there is a version of you who this never happened to. That might as well be you, that is existing, and living, just because you found Pinkie Pie and got her to do her thing."
The Smooze appeared before Twilight - and then she found her ear tasted of curtain rods and her pancreas pulled a lever to produce a pop tart. The sensical nature of sentences was force fed down her throat, ejecting through every hole they could find, laughing all the while. She started laughing herself, trying to grab her nonexistent head.
"But you should think of this. Maybe it's none of the above. Maybe this is the real danger of Cuil Seven. It destroys you. Demolishes you. Treats you with false hope and then throws you further and further into the rabbit hole. Maybe it dooms you by thinking you're out."
Twilight screamed. It incomprehensible was for score and pizza on a stick forget all formahautl why never needed a crybaby with for all in Ahuizotl she just wanted her friends.
"Everything I've said is a lie. Everything I've said is truth. You must believe it. You must disbelieve it. You must adapt, and not. It only goes up from here. Is this even possible? Aren't we just in an abstraction of reality - which means, as an abstraction, this isn't real? Was the original scenario real in the first place? Did it even exist? Can this hell end if it never started?"
Twilight Sparkle looks for a book.
Twilight Sparkle screams.
Twilight Sparkle opened the door to her library, setting her saddlebags on a nearby table. She hummed a tune to herself as she unpacked all her books, including titles such as Dragon Studies and How to Deal with Extravagant Magic Users. She levitated the books back into their crystalline shelves, keeping in tune with her meticulous organization strategy. Despite the complexity of her methods, she was able to place everything correctly with hardly any thought at all. Her bags soon ran out of books to replace, and the feeling of a job well done filled her from head to hoof.
She dug out the other objects in her bags and set them on the table - some cupcakes from Pinkie in a nice cardboard box, a half dozen bits, a sapphire smoothie for Spike, and a statue of the Smooze.
Twilight raised an eyebrow at the statue of the Smooze. "Really?" She called out - but there was no response from any tricksters. She shrugged, moving to leave the library, but something gave her pause. She glanced at her pile of objects, something not sitting right with her. A feeling of there being an object there she couldn't quite put her hoof on...
Oh, that's right, she'd picked up a blue stone earlier that day she'd wanted to identify. It wasn't there. Such a shame - she'd wanted to see what it was.
Spike walked in. "Hey Twilight, Starlight says she needs your help with a fish tank."
"Oh, didn't know she liked fish! Lead the way!" She walked out with Spike, but then realized something. "Oh, I almost forgot, here's your sapphire smoothie!"
Spike rubbed his claws together and grabbed the smoothie off the table. He took a sip of it, licking his lips afterward. "Thanks!"
"Don't mention it," Twilight said. "Let's go see what kind of fish Starlight has shall we?"
"You're going to go crazy over them. She's got some enchanted ones!"
"Ooooh, I can't wait to hear how she got them!"
Alicorn and dragon walked away into the distance...
...Elsewhere, in the middle of a field of grass, Pinkie Pie stood, holding the azurite.
Why had she known she had to get this thing away from Twilight?
She didn't know. She didn't know a lot of why she just knew things. But she'd known it was important.
She produced a hammer from somewhere and smashed the stone into nothingness. Then she bounced away, a feeling of a job well done filling her from head to hoof.
Pinkie Pie stood, holding the azurite.
Why had she known she had to get this thing away from Twilight?
She didn't know. She didn't know a lot of why she just knew things. But she'd known it was important.
She produced a hammer from somewhere and smashed the stone into nothingness. She could hear Twilight Sparkle's screams as all the wheat shook in the wind.